Monday, 6 August 2012

My Book Spine Poetry

As promised, here are my own poetic book spine offerings:

I'm sorry that the image quality etc isn't great. If you're friends with me on facebook, you can see it as an album (which may or may not be better) here.

Book Spine Poetry

I recently discovered the art of Book Spine Poetry, the act of making poems out of book titles or at least the titles given on the spines of books. It's a relatively straightforward idea, but as an art or poetic form its rather playful, taking titles as ready-made poetic phrases and linking them together to create a new poetic object.

The master of book spine poetry is artist Nina Katchadourian, whose Sorted Books project has been ongoing nearly 20 years. The Sorted Books project began in 1993 and saw the artist arrange books from numerous lookings - private homes to public libraries and specialised books collections. Whilst the artist herself claims that "Taken as a while, the clusters from each sorting aim to examine that particular library's focus, idiosyncracies, and inconsistencies - a cross-section of that library's holdings", her work also producing some interesting literary results. Here are two of my favourites (my organisation of typed text):

Book spine poetry appears to be taking off on the web, perhaps because it seems to offer the same sort of authorly promise as web2.0 - it is an art everyone can do. Indeed, there are libraries in America holding Book Spine Poetry competitions. Another writer of Book Spine Poetry is cultural commentator and literary reviewer Maria Popova, who posted her attempts on her blog Brain Pickings. Again, two favourites:

Anyway, I thought I'd have a go at some Book Spine Poetry myself! If you're interested you can see my own Book Spine Poems on the next blog post here.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Find the Fragrant World

Anyone who knows me will know I'm slightly obsessed with the music of Yeasayer, having seen them play in June 2010 on Governor's Island in New York. I've been eagerly anticipating their third album Fragrant World, not due out until 21st August, and the wait has just got all the more exciting!

Back in May, an unexpected CD-shaped parcel was pushed through my letter box. On opening, I found it to be a letter from the Band and an advanced CD featuring the song "Henrietta". Dated 'May 1st, 2012', it read:
Dear Human Being,

Enclosed is a burned compact disc version of "Henrietta," a single from our upcoming album. We wanted you to hear it first. Please know you were chosen (1 of 200) at random from over 7 billion people on the planet earth. Pls share w/ the internets.

More details soon.

X- Yeasayer

I was of course insanely excited by this, played the CD straight away and instantly loved it! The band reinforced the online hype this physical release generated by lucky fans like myself with TXTSPK (textspeak) announcements on social media platforms Facebook and Twitter - HNRTTA. This was followed with the internet release of another track "Longevity", also promoted using social meadia - LNGVTY - with both singles available as free digital downloads to fans who preorder the Fragrant World album directly from Yeasayer's website.

Despite this excitement back in May ("Henrietta") and then late June ("Longevity"), I thought I'd just have to be patient for the album's release towards the end of August. I was wrong. Yesterday the band made the following announcement on both their Facebook and Twitter feeds:
Clearly, fans were being fed another cryptic clue. Yet try as I might, I couldn't make PSCYVOTV into a word or a track name, based on the tracklistings for Fragrant World on the internet. Today, the band issued the following letter/photograph:

We have received a message that we are on the verge of embargoed information being leaked through the cracks of the digital universe. Once again an attempt to tell the story before our months can spit. In order to have the edge we have created PSCYVOTV standing for PREEMPTIVE SELF-COMMISIONED YEASAYER VORSTELLUNG OR TRACH VISUALISER.

Using the talents of Yoshi Sodeoka we have created a moving visual for every song on our new album FRAGRANT WORLD and have hidden them all over the internet. The visuals will live on the web until Friday Aug. 3, at 8pm EST. You'll have a few days to find, listen, and most importantly, hear the album from our hands first. at 8pm sharp, PSCYVOTV will be removed.

A challenge has been issued - a kind of 21st century online whacky races for music lovers is underway. Wired magazine have already described the operation as a "scavenger hunt" for fans.

Yeasayer's game isn't just novel though; its downright clever, utilising what Henry Jenkins has called convergence: "the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between media industries, and the migratory behaviour of audiences who will go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they want" (Convergence Culture: 2). Yeasayer fans will access the music in digital and multimedia forums, before they get their hands on their physical CD. And for fans who do engage in this treasure hunt, the investment in the music itself is likely to be all the greater, since they have actively participated in its discovery/uncovery. For these fans finding the tracks is an immersive investment: Finding the Fragrant World means entering it.

I'll certainly be joining the search (and I'll do my best to keep you updated on twitter). For now, I'll leave you with the first track to have been found - Track 3. "Blue Paper".

So, "Blue Paper", "Henrietta", and "Longevity" all found: 3 down, 8 to go!

Here's an Update with links to all the tracks [though they'll be gone by Friday 8pm]:

1. Fingers Never Bleed
2. Longevity
3. Blue Paper
4. Henrietta
5. Devil and the Deed
6. No Bones
7. Reagan's Skeleton
8. Demon Road
9. Damaged Goods
10. Folk of the Schtick
11. Glass of the Microscope

Friday, 27 July 2012

Routledge Companion to Experimental Literature

Over the last few years, I've been involved in co-editing the The Routledge Companion to Experimental Literature with Joe Bray and Brian McHale and I'm so pleased that it's finally been published (in June of this year)!

A taster of the book, by way of the table of contents and the editorial introduction to the volume, can be found on the website for Jacket2, an online magazine on modern and contemporary poetics.

For those interested, access it here.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

"You've never experienced a novel like this"

About two and a half years ago, I wrote an essay on Steve Tomasula's award-winning new media novel TOC for a special festschrift on Tomasula's work for Electronic Book Review.

The collection of essays is now live on EBR's pages here, including my own piece ' "You've never experienced a novel like this": Time and interaction when reading TOC'.

Hope you enjoy!